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Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic!

Eat Right and SOAR!

Psalm 17:8
Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings...
I like the verse above, about being the "apple of his eye". It refers to being very special; a favored child; one who is specially blessed. As I have been learning more and more about food (see ​​wingsHealth) and the Bible (see wingsSpirit), I have come to believe that our bodies were created to heal themselves. This happens when we get the proper nutrition from the foods we eat—and then we will be specially blessed. 

I have made a practice of quick and easy cooking. I try to use natural ingredients and often adjust my recipes to use more healthful ingredients, although in my regular cooking I rarely use a cookbook or a recipe. I suppose this comes from decades of experience, but I don't think it takes years and years of practice, just some good starting habits. We do not eat gourmet, just good food plain and simple. I don't have a system, although truthfully, if I had a houseful of people to cook for I would need specific meal plans, along with specific grocery shopping lists and specific times to shop. There are other websites that have this kind of information, if that's what you need. This page is not about a new or better way to do things, it's just about the simple way I do things for myself, my husband, and our son.

Welcome to wingsFood

I grew up in a large farm family, with six children and tons of chores. I'm familiar with gathering eggs, schedules for milking cows, gardening and preserving. At one time or another we had chickens, cows, pigs, sheep and horses—and maybe some I've forgotten. I'm not counting dogs and cats. Cooking then was a completely different ball game, and although I learned some valuable skills about managing the cooking schedule, I struggled for years with learning to cook for far fewer people! Even apart from quantities, I find it to be a very different process. (I still have to measure the macaroni so I don't make too much.)

As I said before, we eat simply: breakfast is a hodge-podge, with (pretty much) everyone for themselves, since our schedules are all different—toast and tea, or cold cereal, maybe some fruit, and at least once a week pancakes or eggs for my husband. I fix something simple for lunch; a sandwich or soup for myself, since I work at home, and pasta with cheese for my son on his days off. Our main meal is dinner: meat or protein, rice or other carbohydrate, veggies or salad. Desserts have been reclassified as treats, and they come at odd times as we celebrate something or I have a craving or I find a great new recipe to try. I love the flexibility.

My husband works four 10-hour days including a 3-hour commute; since he leaves at 6:30 a.m. and doesn't get home until 6 or 6:30 p.m., I try to pack him some 'lasting' foods. So far he prefers a large toasted bagel with cream cheese; a sausage-and-egg breakfast croissant; one or two pieces of fruit; some kind of fruit bread with nuts; and he's been sneaking in a pop-tart pack. (Yuk.) He doesn't want any other protein, so I leave out the cheese-and-crackers. I think he eats most of it on his way to work, but he won't admit to that!

As you can imagine, he is starving by the time he gets home. I try to make sure everything is ready by 6:30 p.m., since my last student doesn't leave until 6:00 (I tutor dyslexic students in my home), so it's cutting it a little close. If I want to make something big like a roast I can use my crockpot, but we don't like to eat quite that much that late. We usually eat out a couple of times a month to give 'mom' a break, usually on Friday nights, but that's simple, too: Chinese or pizza, or sometimes a sub sandwich. 

My son likes to treat us to Sunday lunch, which is nice because I don't need to fix anything, but truthfully there are times I prefer to eat at home. I know what is in the food I'm cooking, which just 'feels' healthier! So here are a few of my favorite ideas and recipes. Maybe it will be a springboard of ideas for your family. 

One note: I do not advocate for any particular speciality diet. I suppose we are fortunate that we don't have dietary issues that must be accommodated. We eat meat; we eat wheat and carbohydrates; we eat healthy fats and some sugar, and we eat plenty of vegetables of all kinds. Some of you will need to adjust the following ideas to fit your own requirements, but I believe you can still derive some good tips. Good health to you.

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Good and Simple Food

1 cup baking mix**
1 egg
1 cup milk
    Mix thoroughly; mix will be somewhat runny. Cook on medium heat. We make large sized pancakes and we like the edges crispy. This makes 4 large pancakes. Serve with real maple syrup or honey.
     It's easy to add pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice to the batter, but you will probably need more baking mix. It makes a very soft pancake; you can make them smaller, and be careful when you turn them over. You can also add ground flax, dried fruits, etc. But plain is good too, and can always be served with fruit or jam on top for a treat.

5 eggs
3 tbsp. milk
6 slices bread
     Beat eggs thoroughly and whip in milk. Dip bread and cook on medium heat. There shouldn't be any 'wet' spots if they are cooked properly. Serve with real maple syrup or honey. If there is egg mixture left over, cook it up as an omelet with a little cheese in the middle. Serves 2 or 3.

Eggs should be room temperature; just set them on the counter for a few minutes. Wait for the oil in the pan to heat up before adding the eggs.** These need to be cooked on low to medium heat for runny yolks, just a few minutes. Turn over gently and cook about 2 more minutes. (Experiment with different temps to find what works best for you.) Season as desired and serve with toast and butter.
Best Veggie Soup!
2 cups chicken, beef or vegetable stock
3-4 chicken, beef or vegetable boullion cubes
2 cups water as desired
1 cup bite-sized meat (can easily be left out) 
2-3 cups favorite vegetables
    Heat the stock with the boullion. Add water to make the desired amount. Add bite-size meat. Bring to a boil.** Add fresh or frozen veggies and heat through. No other seasoning required. Serve with bread. 2-3 Servings.

ChickenRice Soup:
4-6 cups water
1 cup cooked chicken or
4 ounces canned chicken
1 cup uncooked rice
1 cup uncooked barley
1 cup vegetables of choice
2 tsp. basil
2 tsp. sage
     Boil water.** Add rice and barley with the chicken and cook on medium heat until soft and tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add vegetables and basil and sage and cook until lightly bubbling. Serve immediately with a simple salad or bread. Serves 2-3.

Potato Soup:
3-4 cups milk
3-4 medium potatoes 
1 medium onion**
1 medium carrot
1 stalk celery
2 cups cheese of choice
     Heat milk but don't boil. Saute veggies until tender and mash together lightly (leave some chunks). Add to hot milk. Stir in cheese until melted; mixture should be creamy but not thick. Serve with salad; 2-3 servings.
Lunch is a great opportunity to use up leftovers. I make various soups, sandwiches and 'casseroles' using leftovers, or just heat and eat. (And yes, some of our leftovers get thrown out!)
I also keep on hand a variety of sandwich meats and cheeses. My husband thrives on mayonaisse and I love mustard, and it's super-simple to make sandwiches to individual tastes. We do like chips with our sandwiches!
​Homemade Tomato Soup:
4 cups water
8-10 large peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes**
1 cup corn or rice
1 cup quinoa
Sauteed onion** and green pepper as desired
     Boil water and add tomatoes; reduce until it's thickened (usually 2-3 hours). Add other ingredients and cook until quinoa is tender. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with crackers and sprinkle cheese on top. Makes 3-4 servings.​ (Can be quite rich-tasting without the cheese.)
Family breakfasts at our house are tricky, because no one wants or likes the same things. Also, our schedules are very different and we usually eat at different times. So on the one or two days that we can eat breakfast together, I will often cook two breakfasts; this is really fairly simple with only three people eating. Every once in a while, however, I throw in the towel and pop open a can of refrigerated cinnamon rolls.
​Truthfully, this is so good it can be eaten morning, noon or night. 

Boil 2 eggs** for each serving. (We keep boiled eggs on hand, since they make nutritious snacks.) Make a cream sauce**, season with salt and pepper, and chop up the eggs into the sauce. Serve over toast or bagel chips. 

This can be a little heavy so don't eat too much; top off with fruit, for balance. 

Toast several bagels and cut in half. (This makes four pieces for each bagel.) Top with cream cheese, jam, honey, butter or whatever you like. Serve with fresh fruit and tea or coffee. 

** See cooking tips below, in the last section.
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I try to make sure I am serving my husband one good hot meal a day with a good chunk of protein because he does hard labor outside. He doesn't like fish—at least none that I've tried yet—so that limits us. Fortunately we have a good source for grass-fed beef and we have beef about three times a week. We have chicken once or twice, and pork once or twice, depending on whether we eat out. 

I cook our meat simply. For the most part, I put a little water in the bottom of the skillet, add the thawed meat, season and cook gently, usually with a loose-fitting lid, on low heat and the longest possible time, which on my schedule means about 30 minutes. It comes out juicy and flavorful. Cooking on high heat can make the meat tough and dry (unless you are cooking in a wok, which I do not), which is neither tasty or desirable. I usually season it with a salt-and-pepper mixture at the beginning, or I use coconut aminos in place of soy sauce and worchestershire sauce. 

Some meats are more delicious broiled, stir-fried, roasted, or pan fried. Steaks (when we have them) I like to broil, but it can be tricky; you don't want the meat too close to the heat source or for too long a time; it has to be watched closely. Cube steaks and liver I dredge in flour and cook in hot oil. Pork chops are so delicious pan fried; I just put a little coconut oil or olive oil in the pan, add the chops and season. Again, they must be cooked slowly on low heat. I like to chop up my chicken breasts and make stir fry, but they are also very good in many other ways! Chicken legs and thighs you can do almost anything with, and there are entire websites devoted to the cooking of chicken. 

Grass-fed hamburger is one of God's miracle foods, because you can do almost anything with it! Meatloaf, casseroles, chili, burritos, taco salad and meatballs are all excellent choices. We also like it plain, cooked up in a patty with a slice of cheese on top. But almost all our roasts are slow-roasted with carrots, onions and potatoes. Yum. Don't neglect the use of a crock pot, dutch oven or pressure cooker. Meals can be delicious, satisfying and nutritious by planning ahead and preparing things in the crock pot ahead of time, then just plug it in and let it cook for 6 or 8 hours. Last minute? Try the pressure cooker. We make almost all our hot wings in the pressure cooker because I can put them in frozen and they are ready in 20-30 minutes. 

A word about cheese: if you aren't lactose intolerant, eat cheese. All kinds of full-fat cheese, but don't overdo it. Besides fat, it's high in protein and  healthy bacteria and enzymes which are excellent for digestion and gut health.
I know carbs seem to be on everyone's 'avoidance' list, but our bodies need carbohydrates! Not a lot, and not all the time, but let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater, for heaven's sake.

My husband is from El Salvador in Central America, and his carb of choice is rice. Growing up in the midwest, our carb of choice was potatoes! But most of the time my family eats rice. We have a rice cooker which is oh-so-easy and quick; 10-12 minutes and you have 2-3 cups of perfect, fluffy rice. So we have lots of rice. And despite my most enthusiastic potato dishes, my guys will only eat french fries, tater tots and potato chips. Not even baked potatoes! So every once in a while I cook up some rice for them and throw a potato in the microwave for me, and then we all sit down to eat together! But I stopped trying to make scalloped potatoes, or cheesy-potato bake, for instance, since I'm the only one who would eat it.

My son loves pasta, I enjoy pasta, and my husband doesn't like any pasta. He will eat it once in a while, when I make spaghetti and 'there's nothing else to eat', poor man. We don't have pasta together too often. I make macaroni and cheese or chicken alfredo pasta or noodles with parmesan for my son, and I have some with him, as often as not. It doesn't bother me one little bit anymore! 

I do keep trying new things. My husband will eat sweet potatoes—but they have to taste 'sweet'. And he doesn't want his meat to taste 'sweet', so I can't make a sweet-potato-pork-chop bake like I love. But I can cook the sweet potatoes separately, and they are so healthy. I have tried sweet potato fries and crisps and wedges and everything else I find, but I just don't get the hang of it. I have since learned that they have to be soaked to leach out some of the starch? I haven't tried that yet. 

I love dumplings with my broth soups, and with stews. Husband and son are so-so on these as well, so I don't eat them often. If you can eat bread and tolerate the gluten, try some new breads at the health-food store, or make some yourself. I found this amazing 9-grain bread that I absolutely adore, and it's excellent with soup.

I want to say a word about corn. I used to love corn; fresh-buttered, corn-on-the-cob, frozen, creamed, corn chips—it was great. But there have been changes in this old world, and the corn supply is one of them. We don't know what corn is GMO and what is not, not by looking at labels or packaging like we once could. The same is true for wheat and soy and several other products, but corn is one of the main agitators, including popcorn. If you and/or your neighbor grow your own sweet corn, do you know where the seeds came from? Can you verify that they are non-GMO? As mentioned on the wingsHealth page, the non-GMO label is popular now, and we need to be checking for this label and support the growers who have not given in to this bad industry. If you don't know what I'm talking about, a simple google search will educate you fairly quickly. My eyes cannot tell the difference, but my body certainly can. Each of us must educate ourselves on this threat to our food supply and act accordingly. For myself and my family, I try to avoid corn and corn products—and GMOs—whenever possible, and I always, always check the labels. It's unfortunate that we can't trust the farmers, manufacturers (many of whom have been lied to), or the FDA.
There are so many vegetables. I think people who say 'I don't like vegetables', just need to try some different things. It's okay if you don't like lima beans—try something else!

When I was growing up our veggies were somewhat limited to what we could grow or buy frozen; we rarely bought fresh veggies that weren't salad-oriented. And I don't think we were very good at trying to make them taste good; we just focused on making enough for everyone to get some. Veggies were prepared, cooked (or heated up) and served, period. I hated broccolli and cauliflower, because they would be mushy and the cheese would be stringy. Until I got to college, and realized they could be eaten raw! Were my eyes ever opened. Delicious!

I have already talked about sweet potatoes; but don't neglect the squashes. Pumpkin, acorn, spaghetti, butternut, and many others. They can be used in soups, roasted, mashed or fried. You won't know until you try.  

I also keep trying new things with cauliflower. It's amazing! I chop it up, saute slightly, and use it in place of potatoes in potato salad! People don't know until I tell them. I love it roasted with other veggies. Chop up your favorite veggies in bite-sized pieces, drizzle olive oil over it and season with salt and pepper. Yum! So simple and delicious. And there are recipes to use it to replace rice in stir-fried rice. It's very versatile. 

I don't want to neglect salads. I'm not talking about marshmallows, instant pie filling and cool whip! Most of the salads I'm talking about here can be served with your choice of salad dressing, either bottled or homemade. Sometimes I prefer my salad with no dressing at all.

One of our favorites is spinach salad with chopped egg, bacon and sunflower seeds. Nutrient dense! I also make a mean wrap version of this: make  egg-salad with boiled eggs and mayo, spread it down the center of the wrap, then add spicy diced tomatoes and top with spinach and sunflower seeds. Fold the wrap and enjoy. The summer standby when the garden is producing wildly is cucumber, onion and tomato salad. There are many variations of this: try it with green pepper, tomato and onion; add bacon; mix it with salad greens. Try it with your favorites to make it your own. 

Kale is super-healthy, as are many other greens. Ask your friends for recipes, if you don't have any, or make your own salad. Kale chips are easy to make and very tasty, as long as they are prepared with the appropriate oil. 

I love to stir-fry, even though I don't have a wok. In the summer our favorite is onions, sweet banana peppers and tomatoes. Oh, the fresh-from-the-garden flavors! In the fall and winter I love onions, carrots and red cabbage. Be sure to season your veggies carefully, it makes so much difference to the end result. Serve both of these with a little rice, or over some noodles. Makes me feel rich to enjoy such an abundance!
Our schedules are very different now, so the three of us only eat together three times a week. It's the new season of life I'm in.

In a nutshell, our bodies need protein, carbohydrates, fats, fiber and micro-nutrients. We can get these things from the foods we eat, if we choose our foods wisely, eat a wide variety of foods, and prepare them appropriately. I have always felt that I did not want to spend more time cooking than it would take to eat, since I believed the extra labor was wasted. (You spend two hours preparing food that will vanish in 20 minutes? Not efficient enough for me.) So my motto has become 'super-simple, quick and healthy.' Here's a few of my tips.
We don't eat that much fruit. Not because of any problem with fruit; we just don't seem to crave it. I hope it's because we eat so many other good and nutritious things that we just don't need it as much. 

We do like banana milkshakes, and fresh fruit cobbler, and fruity drinks. Freeze your overripe bananas, instead of tossing them out. Just cut them up into 6 or 7 pieces, put in a freezer bag and toss in the freezer. Here's how to use them.

Put 14 pieces frozen banana pieces** in the blender (approximately 2 frozen bananas). Add 6-8 ounces of evaporated milk, 1/2 tsp. vanilla, and your favorite flavorings (i.e., 2 tbsp. healthy cocoa). Blend on high until it's a smooth consistancy, and enjoy! You can add 1-2 tbsp. sugar, honey or real maple syrup if you like it sweeter.

Put 1 to 1-1/2 cups frozen fruit in the blender. Add 6-8 ounces of coconut milk or evaporated milk, 1/2 tsp. vanilla, and 2 tbsp. sugar, honey or real maple syrup. Blend until smooth. Serve immediately. 

Chop equal amounts of celery, grapes, walnuts and apples (cut up the apples last so they don't turn brown.)  Our favorite dressing is vanilla yogurt! Find a full-fat brand that you love, it's very useful in so many recipes. No grapes? Try it with raisins. We've used several varieties of apples and all are very tasty this way.
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Kitchen Tips: The Science of Cooking

Please see the health tips on wingsHealth for additional information.

A cream sauce is very similar to gravy. Mix 2 tablespoons flour with 1 cup cold water, making sure there are no lumps. There are shaker tools that make this very simple. It is helpful to have 2-3 cups of milk and 1 cup of water available at the stove. Next heat up 2-3 tablespoons real butter in a skillet, on low to medium heat. When the butter is melted and hot, slowly pour the flour mixture into the butter while stirring briskly with a wire wisk. The goal is to mix them together with no lumps, and yes it may take a little practice, so don't despair. The butter mixture should thicken fairly quickly so the constant brisk stirring is necessary. Slowly pour in some of the extra milk, continuing to stir, until you achieve the consistancy you need. If you want it fairly runny, use some of the water. Season with salt and pepper, or to taste. This sauce works for creamed vegetables or anything needing a smooth delicious sauce, and it's easy to add cheese for a cheese sauce.

Trouble peeling boiled eggs? Make sure the eggs are not fresh, by leaving them in your refrigerator for 2-3 days before trying to boil them. Add 1-2 teaspoons of baking soda to the water when they are boiling. I usually boil mine for ten minutes; remove from the heat immediately, drain, and cover in ice. Wait until they are cool, then gently crack the shell all over and it slips right off.
It's very simple to make your own baking mix, and it saves time and money. Use 5 cups self-rising flour and mix in 5 tablespoons shortening; this will yield approximately 5 cups of bisquick-type mix. Cut the shortening into the flour with a pastry blender or two knives; store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. If you won't be using it right away, store in the refrigerator. It will last as well as the store-bought mix. I usually use coconut oil that has neutral odor and flavor for the shortening, but melted butter or olive oil will need more careful mixing. You can make as much or as little as you want, just use a 1 cup to 1 tablespoon ratio.

Eggs over-easy works best with room temperature eggs; just leave them on the counter for a few minutes. There is more than one way to check if the oil is hot enough. You can drop in a couple of drops of water; if the water spatters and evaporates the oil is hot. Or you can just do a visual test: you should be able to see the surface of the oil 'shimmy' slightly. Don't use too much oil, a little bit is all it takes.

Chopping onions making you cry? Cut the onion in half and swipe under cool running water. Onion fumes dissolve in water. Don't soak the onion in water, it loses flavor and nutrients.

Fruit turning brown before you can serve it? Make a citrus wash, using 1/4 to 1/2 cup water and 1 teaspoon lemon, lime or orange juice. It should be fairly diluted. Briefly dip—don't soak—the fruit into the wash and pat dry. This will keep your fruit looking white and fresh for a few hours. 

Tired of food boiling over on the stove? What a mess. First, make sure there's not too much water in the pan; 2/3 is pretty full. Then just place a wooden spoon across the top of the pan. This works for cooking pasta, boiling eggs, and making water-based soups.

Bananas turning brown before you can eat them? Peel and cut them up into 1" chunks, then freeze for later use.

As far as I know, there is no easy way to peel and seed tomatoes. I get a big pot of boiling water and our large serving fork. I hold the tomato in for a few seconds (it doesn't really take very long for each). You can usually see the peel start to split. If you watch carefully, the tomato will be barely cool enough to handle, and the peel should pretty much slip right off. Then you can cut it open and easily remove the seeds.